Stone Drive's popularity with businesses is tied directly to the amount of traffic that travels the roadway daily. Photo by David Grace.
KINGSPORT — Stone Drive has become the “community epicenter” for national community-based franchises because it has more non-interstate traffic than any highway in the region, said Jeff Fleming, assistant city manager for development.
“In the past year, it seems every bit of frontage of Stone Drive has been scoured for redevelopment opportunities by external developers. ... City staff has fielded numerous questions,” Fleming said. “We are continuing to see investors looking for opportunity to build auto-based franchises because of the development pattern of Stone Drive.”
Fleming's research shows Stone Drive shopping centers, auto dealerships, restaurants and other retailers generate close to $900 million of Kingsport’s estimated $1.5 billion in annual retail sales.
The highway, he said, has helped Kingsport post a 19 percent increase in sales tax collections in the past decade.
According to city traffic counts, Stone Drive saw 42,600 vehicles a day in 1994, but it dropped to nearly 31,000 a year later. The traffic count has since grown back to almost 39,000 vehicles a day.
A number of parcels along the seven-lane thoroughfare, Fleming said, continue to transition from old to new construction.For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday’s print edition or our expanded electronic edition.